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Intelligent ARGOS robots are now commercially ready for the Oil & Gas sector

A project presented by Eric Bartoli, Kristopher Kydd, Jean-Michel Munoz and Dino Pantelaras

ARGOS (Autonomous Robots for Operator Rounds) leads off with the world’s first autonomous ground inspection robot of industrial quality operated on an active Oil & Gas site since the end of 2020. Its deployment is a key stage in the development of a new, radically different generation of onshore and offshore facilities operating without a continuous human presence: Normally Unattended Facilities.

Best Innovators 2021 - ARGOS – Autonomous Robots for Operator Rounds -  Exploration & Production – TotalEnergies

A unique robot in the Oil & Gas sector

With an array of sensors and 24/7 availability, the ARGOS robot can perform routine monitoring rounds and inspection and fault detection missions on its own and without stopping, thanks to its onboard spectral and infrared cameras, its gas and ultrasound detectors and its ability to climb stairs, enter restricted access areas, analyze the environment around it and transmit data.

Designed to work in a potentially explosive environment (ATEX Zone 1), this robot can move around autonomously and execute a wide range of activities typically undertaken by operators: collecting data in a reproducible manner, reading local indicators, identifying valve positions, detecting anomalies such as broken seals, gas leaks or hot spots (potential fires). Soon to be added to the robot’s set of abilities: the monitoring of corrosion and general integrity.

Non-human qualities

  • The explosion-proof ARGOS robot considerably reduces the exposure of operators, who can be completely removed from danger during critical or potentially hazardous situations arising from the need to confirm gas leaks, monitor levels of sour gas, etc.
  • The robot will dramatically reduce operating costs by limiting the number of personnel involved, visits to sites and the organization of logistics. The total cost of a robot equates to that of one operator on site for just one year. 
  • Having a robot permanently present at a facility enables it to provide an in-depth assessment of its condition through the regular collection and transmission of data, which ensures better responsiveness and limits or avoids production shortfalls.
  • The robot can be deployed with very little modification on all types of connected onshore and offshore facilities with an electric power supply for its docking station, and also in other sectors such as refining and chemicals.
  • The ARGOS robot also helps to reduce the carbon footprint of exploration and production activities by limiting - and possibly eventually even eliminating - the rotation of staff by boat or helicopter.

ARGOS becomes commercially available

After extensive testing in Scotland and the Netherlands and the subsequent full commissioning phase, a decisive step was taken: in November 2020, two robots were delivered to the TotalEnergies gas field in the Shetlands (United Kingdom) for a year-long endurance test.

This is a first in the Oil & Gas industry and a key stage in the Company’s Next Generation Facilities project. The program’s disruptive approach should in the future make it possible to reduce investment and operating costs by 20% through simpler, streamlined and less costly facilities.

The robot is being marketed by Taurob as the Taurob Inspector. The ARGOS family will soon expand, welcoming four new robots and a new plant for their mass production.

Since 2019, the ARGOS Joint Industry Project was launched by Total, the OGTC and Norway’s Equinor. It will focus on developing special robots for the Oil & Gas sector. A number of our affiliates and partners have also expressed their interest in this robot.

The project team